Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Winston County Plywood Ribbon Cutting - A Step Toward the Future!

(More photos of this event can be seen by clicking here.)

Ms. Governor Phil Bryant cuts the ribbon on the new
Winston Plywood & Veneer Facility in Louisville, Ms.
It has been a long, unusual and challenging journey for the community of Louisville since the April 28th, 2014 tornado. After years of job loss, Louisville and Winston County were looking forward to the reopening of an existing plywood facility in the spring of 2014. The tornado that destroyed that facility could have destroyed any hope of future jobs. Now less than three years later, a brand new state-of-the-art plywood mill stands on that site and currently employs 300 workers.

On Wednesday April 5th, 2017, local employees and workers, citizens, local dignitaries and state officials gathered together at the site of the new Winston Plywood and Veneer facility in Louisville to celebrate a new beginning, the spirit of local citizens, the faith and commitment of a company and its investors and a brighter future for Louisville and Winston County. The ribbon cutting event provided an opportunity for the community to see the facility firsthand and provide a means to reflect upon the effort and commitment required to reach the stage of production.

Jon Pierce, CEO of WPV noted that there were a lot of "thank you’s" to give. Pierce thanked the
Jon Peirce - CEO of WP&V
community of Louisville indicating that it was a wonderful place to work and acknowledged the ability of the community to come together after a very difficult experience. He thanked the WPV team members and acknowledged a group of students who were part of “Project Lead the Way” at Louisville High School. Pierce indicated that the Louisville mill is the first plywood mill built in the United States in more than two decades. The 300,000 plus square-foot facility currently has approximately 300 employees on site. He thanked those employees for their work ethic and pride and noted that there were challenges still ahead and that it was not going to be easy but there was a commitment here.

Derric Stewart, an employee of Winston Plywood and Veneer spoke of his experience and the
Derric Stewart - employee of WPV
emotions surrounding April 28th, 2014. Stuart lost his home in the storm and it took him nearly four hours to get to his house and discover that his wife was safe. WPV ultimately provided employment for him in November 2015 and Stewart issued a challenge to his fellow employees to "make WPV the best plywood mill in the world and a grand place to work and provide for our families."

Andrew Bursky, the Chairman of Atlas Holding (owner of WPV) spoke of the groundbreaking that occurred in January of 2015 at which time, Governor Bryant expressed a desire to see that the company build the best plywood mill in North America. He indicated that he…. “was proud to say that as this crowd stands here today we have met that commitment. This is something we can all celebrate – employees, customers and investors. We share a unique bond knowing what happened here in April 2014."

Bursky also acknowledged the students in the crowd who were members of Project Lead the Way from Louisville High School and indicated that Atlas and WPV provided the funding for that program with a goal of " inspiring today's students to be leaders in manufacturing."

Bursky said that Atlas works in 140 communities across the world. "There is no place where we have seen more support and encouragement than in Mississippi." He expressed support and thank you for Governor Bryant, Glenn McCullough of MDA, other state officials, Louisville Mayor Will Hill and Doctor Richard Baldwyn who spearheaded the project for WPV.

Also in attendance was Glenn McCullough, the Executive Director of the Mississippi Development
Glenn McCullough- Ex. Director of Ms. Dev. Authority
Authority. McCullough stressed the leadership and teamwork required for the completion of such a project and recognized a strong local leadership on this project. "The future of this community and Mississippi is brighter than ever before." said McCullough.

"Phillip Gunn, Mississippi Speaker of the House said, "We have a lot of things to celebrate, a lot of backs to pat - local leaders, the legislature... we can celebrate because we have jobs in Winston County. We celebrate Winston Plywood and Veneer and their commitment and their belief in us. They are here because they believe in you."

Gunn spoke of the effort and success of the project. " What does that say about you? It is a testimony
Ms Speaker of House, Phillip Gunn
of the people of Louisville but also of the State of Mississippi. We need to celebrate the character, willpower and resiliency of this community. It is a reflection of the entire spirit of the state of Mississippi."

Governor Phil Bryant spoke of the devastation after the April 2014 tornado, his wife's role after the storm and noted that everyone did what they did because this was their home. Bryant noted that Louisville and Winston County serve as an example for the nation. America needs rebuilding - homes, schools...... let them look to Louisville and Winston Plywood and Veneer for the material to rebuild. Out of tragedy comes greatness."

Louisville Mayor Will Hill made the closing remarks and took the opportunity to thank a large
Ms. Governor Phil Bryant
number of people involved in the project and recovery - from company officials and construction and design teams, local Economic Development, City and County officials, Louisville Utility officials and State officials with a number of organizations and agencies.

Hill noted that it was not very many years ago then it was customary around Winston County to talk about job loss not job creation. Hill especially thanked Dr. Richard Baldwin, who came in after the storm and stated his commitment to the community and the Winston Plywood and Veneer project. He also thanked leaders from other communities in the area including the City of Noxapater. Special recognition and plaques were provided to plant manager, Ken Carter and Dr. Dick Baldwin and as the City of Louisville is the owner of the property, Mayor Hill presented keys to the facility to the three major CEOs involved in the project.

Winston Plywood And Veneer employees were involved heavily in the program. The invocation was given by Dennis Jackson and the National Anthem sung by Marcus Rivers.

Winston Plywood and Veneer is in operation and is at or near full capacity. Click here for more photos of the event.

Part of the crowd gathered for Ribbon Cutting of Winston Plywood & Veneer